(Adds more detail from Heathrow in final 4 pars)
Indications from a ballot of thousands of workers at Heathrow Airport on whether to accept a pay offer point to an “overwhelming rejection”, union leaders have said.
Around 4,000 members of Unite, including security guards, firefighters and engineers, have been voting on a revised pay deal, with the result expected later on Friday.
Planned strikes were suspended while the workers voted on the offer, but industrial action on dates throughout August remain, with Unite saying walkouts next Monday and Tuesday look likely to go ahead.
The union warned Heathrow against opting to pay millions of pounds in compensation to airlines for cancelled flights rather than settling the pay dispute.
Unite officer Wayne King said: “All the indications are pointing to an overwhelming rejection by our members of the revised offer which, in reality, offers little more than the £3.75 extra a day that the original offer did for many workers.
“If members do reject the pay offer and Heathrow bosses dig their heels in, then there is a risk the airport is seen to prefer paying millions in compensation to airlines and needlessly causing misery for the travelling public, instead of sorting the dispute by going the extra mile and giving its workforce a decent pay rise.
“Our low-paid members will sacrifice a day’s pay if they go on strike and are only too aware of the disruption it will cause.
“However, they are at a point where they have had enough with being given crumbs while shareholders pocket billions in dividends and the chief executive enjoys a pay rise of over 100%.”
Talks are expected to be held immediately after the ballot result is announced.
A Heathrow spokesman said: “We are disappointed that Unite has rejected the latest pay offer and will continue to seek an agreement at Acas. Unite is proceeding with its unnecessary strike action on 5th and 6th August and we regret that passengers looking to get away on well-earned breaks will be impacted by this.
“We have activated contingency plans which will keep the airport open and safe on both strike days. We expect security queue times to be slightly longer than normal and advise passengers to check our website for detailed information on how to prepare for their flights and when to arrive at the airport.
“As part of our plans, we are working with airlines to proactively consolidate flights and rebook passengers on to alternative services in advance. We also advise passengers to contact their airlines for the latest information, as well as follow our Twitter and Facebook accounts for further updates.”
Heathrow advised passengers it could take longer than usual to get through security if the strikes go ahead next week, saying they should plan to get to the airport two hours before their scheduled departure for UK and European flights, and three hours for all other flights.
A total of 172 flights have already been cancelled for Monday and Tuesday, with passengers either re-booked onto alternative services or given a refund.
Heathrow said its latest pay offer will ensure that all frontline staff will receive a 7.3% pay increase over two and a half years.
The deal was described as above RPI inflation, “competitive and fair” and higher than the pay increases recently offered to public sector staff and Heathrow’s own managerial staff at 2.4%.